Thursday, June 26, 2008

short hiatus

I'll be a touch silent for a few days. I'm taking this (Thursday) afternoon off - the kids are out of school and one of the kids in the class is having pool party. Then the boy and I food shop, as we're headed to the cottage for a long weekend as of Friday morning. My SIL and her kids are picking us up, and we're gone until Monday afternoon. She doesn't work, and my company is giving us Monday off instead of Tuesday, which is the actual Canada Day holiday. The patriot in me is a little peeved, but the cottager in me is looking forward to the long weekend north. The husbands are coming up Friday night and leaving Sunday, as they both work Monday and have Tuesday off. It worked out that we only have to take two cars, instead of the 3 or 4 that it was looking like we would need. J (my SIL) decided to do the same 4 day weekend that I was planning, so the kids will wreak havoc in the back of her van while we get to chat, and the two brothers (whom we married) will have a "guys drive" weekend in our vehicle. We don't expect them at any reasonable time on Friday night - they will probably pit stop along the way - can't do this with underage kids! (Okay, how many of you thought that link was for something OTHER than a casino??) There will be tons of good food, wine and friends, hopefully sun and swimming, and general relaxing. Definitely knitting, maybe weaving if I bring the loom (if it arrives - it left Orangeville on Monday). I'll be back Tuesday with a full report.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

best damn vinaigrette ever

I'm Canadian. And a damn proud one as well. Although I don't particularly like hockey, I'm a huge basketball fan, and that has roots in Canada as well, so there.

A big part of Canada is the Maple Leaf.

It's on our flag:It's on our money:
It's the quintessential symbol of Canada. The tree it comes from also provides us with the best sweet substance you will ever find

Maple Syrup. And now, thanks to Norma, it is also the basis of the best salad vinaigrette I have ever tasted. Even though Norma's in Vermont, and may try to lay claim to maple syrup (and they make a pretty good one there), I have taken this as my Canada Day BBQ salad dressing. Even my husband, the King of Catalina dressing, loves it. Of course, the real test will be Husband's family - salad lovers all, and big fans of the bottled stuff. I'm going to test it out on them this weekend at the cottage. There won't be much choice on dressings, since we're too far away from a corner store to run out and buy a bottle of Ranch.

Click on Norma's link above and get the Maple Vinaigrette Recipe. It takes about 30 seconds to make, and tastes like heaven on greens. I'd post the recipe, but it's not mine, so go over to Norma's and try it. Really, you have to try this. It's my new summer staple. (Oh, and I added a few minced chives from my garden to it for a little extra kick.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

barrel of...


Nope! It's a barrel...
of weaving yarn!!

Seriously vintage weaving yarn.See those Tex-Made labels? Almost made me cry. My Dad was a Tex-Made vice president before he started his own business. I grew up with Tex-Made. I can't wait to show this to my Mom.
Jen from my Guild contacted me last week once she learned I had bought a loom (STILL waiting for it - you know it will be delivered tonight - the one night I'm out for dinner with friends, and won't be home until late). It's literally a barrel of cotton warp yarn, ranging from sizes 2/8 to 4/8 to 2/16 (in knitters terms, kind of like heavy laceweight to cobweb weight, but it seems sturdier, since it's cotton). In blues, black, rust, turquoise, yellow, red, green... Just the thing for warping the loom when I want to weave with all the cotton I have. I'm picturing tea towels, perhaps placemats... To be honest, until I get into it, I won't know for sure. Deirdre, if we get together to weave, we'll have to try it out!
Most of it was in great shape, at least from the outside of the cone. There was a bit of a musty smell, but I don't think it's anything a little airing out won't take care of. Some of the stuff at the bottom of the barrel was beyond help - there was some stuff growing that shouldn't have been growing, but really, considering how long it was probably in there, I'm surprised it wasn't worse.
Jen - I thank you. The first tea towel is yours. What colour is your kitchen?

Monday, June 23, 2008


I'm about to start the Kauni cardigan. Of course, me being me, I've discovered a problem right off the bat. The cardigan pattern says it requires 480g of yarn. I have 400g of yarn (I bought 4 balls - thought it was enough).

So, if I make the cardigan as it is, from the bottom up, I may get screwed. And how conscious am I of getting screwed by yarn? Anyone remember Hyrna Herborgar?? Yeah, I'm still waiting on yarn to finish that beauty. (good news - I should have the yarn in August. The wonderful Tove of Needles and Knits has arranged transport from Iceland. A guest coming to her daughter's wedding will be bringing some...)

And I really like raglan shaping, rather than drop sleeves. So, I took Laura's wonderful top down raglan cardigan sweater and did some math to readjust gauge, and changed it to be knit in the round and steeked, and I think I have come up with something that will work. I can play with the length and the sleeves. Now I just have to decide if I want to do the damask pattern, or a wonderful Celtic Knot pattern I found. I leaning to the Celtic Knot. Which means I have to do more math and such to make sure the patterns are centred. And if can't put my hands on more yarn, I can reduce the quantity of the fair isle patterning, maybe keeping it to the top and bottom of the sweater, thereby stretching the 400g that I do have.

But if I do all this ahead of time, it should mean the knitting part with flow without a hitch. Right? Right? (Please humour me and tell me it will...)

Friday, June 20, 2008

more my speed...

For those that wondered, this is much more my comfort zone while driving. Note the lack of tall buildings, cars and pedestrians. And this is my drive to work - the cottage drive is even more rustic, and just how I like it.

I was also asked about the Butter Tart Muffin recipe. I have no idea of the providence of this recipe - it was a photocopy of a typewritten, butter stained page when I got it, and I'm not even sure where I got it from. I can honestly say I did not create it. But they are yummy (if a little sticky). They freeze well, so make an extra batch and save for a rainy day.

Butter Tart Muffins
(makes 12 - I usually double this batch)

1 -1/2 cups raisins
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla (use the good stuff... it makes a difference)
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cups walnuts, chopped - optional (I don't add the nuts when I don't know who will be eating them - nut allergies, ya know...)
Maple syrup (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) It says you can use corn syrup, but trust me, use REAL maple syrup - no Aunt Jemima, please!)

Place raisins, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until mixture is hot, slightly thickened, and just beginning to bubble, about 5-8 minutes. Cool slightly, uncovered in the refrigerator, while continuing with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or coat with cooking spray, or as I do, line with paper liners. Stir flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in warm raisin mixture and nuts if using, stirring just until combined. Spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake in centre of oven until golden and a cake tester inserted into centre of a muffin comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately pour about 1 teaspoon of maple syrup over top of each muffin. Cool muffins in cups for 10 minutes then remove to a rack. Best served warm, but pretty good cold as well. Store muffins in a sealed bag at room temperature for up to two days. For longer storage, refrigerate, or preferably freeze.

I'm still patiently waiting for my loom - and trying to figure out where to keep it. I'd love to get it before the weekend, so I can start playing - Deirdre is taunting me with hers...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the sewing post

We've had some hot weather lately. I'm not complaining - I like the hot. I just prefer it at the cottage, in a Muskoka chair, feet in the lake, frosty beverage at hand, good friends nearby. Anyway, I've found it quite comfortable to hang out in our basement lately. Even though we do have air conditioning, I try not to set it too cold - I've never understood the need to wear a sweater inside the house in summer. However, our basement is always chilly, so it's a good place to hang when the temperature rises.

So, the basement just happens to be where my sewing room is, so I've been spending some quality time there. The nice thing about this is there are tangible results of time spent sequestered away with a sewing machine. Over the last couple of weeks, I've churned out a few nice summery tops, suitable for work and play.

Simplicity 3835: Great, simple summer top. The neckline is gathered with elastic, so it's very comfy, and it skims over the hips nicely. I used a black twill - this will be a bit heavy for any really hot days - twill fabric, dark colour, but when the temp is comfortable, so is this top. It looks great with the daisy border printed capris I made a while back.
Butterick 4074 (two versions): Very easy, very comfortable. Made each of these in one sitting. The pink print is a polyester organza type fabric I've had forever - I made the kerchief pointed bottom and sleeve with this - I'd do this bottom again, but not the sleeves - they get in the way. I actually had lunch at a salad bar the day I wore this, and was that a bad mistake. We won't even discuss the bathroom issues...

The other version is an ombre cotton print - I didn't have enough fabric for long sleeves, so I just made short ones.
Butterick 4812: White embroidered tunic. The fabric was already embroidered, so this took all of about 2 hours to put together. Hugely comfortable, but it does need to be ironed before each wearing. No biggie, I don't mind some ironing. It's a little large (I misjudged the amount of ease), but that's OK.

Butterick 5217: Another border fabric- I love the borders. It's a navy blue with tiny white pindots - very lightweight floaty fabric, so the border embroidery really helps it hang well. This pattern also has a sleeveless option, so I will probably make this again. I had to take it in a bit on the sides - I think Butterick may be sizing their patterns up a bit. I also should have ironed it!

Whew! It sure looks like a lot, but really, each of these tops took 1 evening, or 1 afternoon total. Very simple, which is how I like my summer sewing. All fabrics purchased at Fabricland, I think. The pink floral is quite a few years old, so I'm not sure of that one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the garden post

I feel like I should be posting some garden pictures, now that Norma has linked to me. I love Norma's blog. It started as a knitting blog, but has morphed into so much more. There are a number of blogs that have morphed, and I love it - I don't read just for the knitting, I read for the glimpses into life that people share. I know some readers get turned off when knitting takes a second row seat, but not me.

I had mentioned to Norma that my son is in charge of the "food garden" as he calls it. I look after the flowers, Dad gets the lawn, Son handles the food. Growing food has always been a bit tough, as vegetables require a fair bit of sun, and well, sun is a little known phenomena in our yard.

Meet our hedges: 14 foot cedars that encircle the entire (small) yard. They are tall, and block out a great deal of sun. I have become the master of shade gardening: You want hostas? I got hostas!We have one real area that gets enough sun to grow veggies, and we have given it over to the boy: Norma! note the raised bed! Corn, beans, onions, carrots and peppers. We also get sun off our front deck, and that's where my garden of and pots of herbs and tomatoes live. (I handle the herbs, Son watches over the tomatoes). Upon looking at the space around the food garden, we have decided that next year, an expansion is coming. We don't use this part of the lot for anything. (We have a corner house, which means the yard is pretty chopped up, and this part is not really part of the useful area). More raised beds, more veggies. This can only be a good thing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Well, that was fun!

Saturday was a blast! I drove down to Lettuce Knit to be a part of WWKIP day, and more importantly, to be a part of Franklin's 1000 knitter project.
Can I just say something about Franklin? You know how when you read someone's blog, and you get the idea that they would be really nice in person? Well Franklin is not like that. He's better. He's the nicest guy, and even though I spent all of about 5 minutes chatting with him while I knit and he took my picture, it feels like I've made a new friend. He's that good.

I drove downtown,
(SO out of my comfort zone, here!! - yet I still take a picture while driving. Mental, I am.)
and was met right away by the organizer-extraordinaire, Rachel H. She greeted me with a hug and the "clipboard of power", got me signed in, and gave me the release to fill out. Then, I just plopped myself down, and started to knit, among all the other knitters there. Soon enough, Rachel came over and said to make my way to the back of the store, as it was my turn. When I got back there, I saw the birthday girl Stephanie, along with Juno, Dr. Steph, and Rams-of-the-comments. There were other people there as well, but I didn't recognize them, nor did I ask, nor did I take any pictures. My bad. I think Rachel and Stephanie were happy about that. The humidity was doing things to their hair that was not making them happy. Of course, me, with the super straight, "I'd kill for curls like that" hair, should have taken the pictures anyway. I only took my camera out once. and that was to Kinnear Franklin.I just didn't feel right about taking pictures of people. I know a lot of bloggers do it, but it was such a relaxed atmosphere. So, no pictures. Again, my bad.
Stephanie and I chatted for a bit, I gave her the Butter Tart Muffins I baked, and we discussed Aurora in August - details to come. We were debating the weather we will get - we've had extreme heat and unseasonable cold. We figure high winds, flooding or locusts are our options for this year.
I sat around for a bit, chatting with people, did a little shopping at Lettuce Knit (some Sea Silk and some Silky Wool may have made their way into my bag...) I also won a door prize: (you can read Franklin's (actually Dolores') interview with one of the authors here.) It's a lovely book, and one I will use. Although, as nice as it is, I was just one prize off from winning a Franklin original drawing commemorating WWKIP day. So close!
I had a great time. I stepped out of my comfort zone to drive there, and sat among people I didn't know, but soon got to know (Hi Leigh!). I got to meet Franklin, and be a part of something special (to knitters for sure, and hopefully a broader audience). I got to meet up with Stephanie and Rachel H (her "sidekick!" giggle...) again, and make plans to bring them back to Aurora. Would I do it again? In a New York Minute.
Dudes, thanks for organizing this. I hope the celebration last night was a doozy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

loom envy

"Loom Envy". What a great saying, and so very true right now...

Commenter Michelle had this to say:
"I have been thinking about taking the plunge for sometime now. But seems like the urge is striking everyone everywhere particularly hard right now. I am this close to ordering one, myself, would you mind sharing where you got yours? And if you are taking some lessons, I'd be interested in hearing where you were able to take them, as I haven't been having much luck in my own search."

I hadn't thought about classes - I figure I will read the book that comes with it, and I've reserved a few books from the library to get some background info. I mean, how tough can it be? I'm guessing the most difficult part will be warping it, but the actual weaving should be pretty straighforward. (Remember these words - they may come back and bite me on the ass soon...)

I bought my loom (A LeClerc Bergere Tabletop Rigid Heddle 24" loom) from Camilla Valley Farm - by the way, a great place to order anything from. I've bought yarn from Nina before and am thoroughly impressed with her customer service. We talked on the phone, and I ordered the loom, some bamboo yarn and some Cottolin yarn as well. Hopefully, I'll have it within a week, depending on shipping times - It's not that far, but we're depending on Canada Post.

And here's the best part - we had a 50/50 draw at work yesterday - and I won!! I won enough to pay for the loom, and add a little to my charity giving fund... Life really is good...

It's amazing isn't it? I saw a post where Laura talked about weaving. I saw the end result of what she made, read how easy it was and how enjoyable, and decided to take the plunge. And while roaming around the blogosphere, saw that I was not the only one. At least 3 of my regular reads are also either buying a loom, or dusting off one they already have. I freely admit to being a bandwagon-jumper in this case.

We seem to wield a great deal of power (at least over each other). I wonder if we could harness this as an alternative energy source...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

taking the plunge...

Okay, so I decided I will drive downtown on Saturday. The weather being a factor in this, as it looks to be raining on and off during the day, and I don't really want to depend on finding my way around the streets of Kensington Market in the rain on foot...
I appreciate all the help from the comments - knowing there are a couple of Green P parking lots in the area eases my suburban mind quite a bit!

In actual knitting news, I am working on some socks:
(from left to right - the pale grey bamboo you've all seen before, some brown Galaxy socks, destined for a gift, and some beautiful brown and grey handpaint from my friend and knitwear designer Elizabeth Fallone - I love these, and have to decide soon if I keep them or give them away - my FIL spied them, and has been making not so subtle comments about how nice they would look on him...)

some lace:
(the restart of the copper lace shawl - loving it!)

some beads:
and some math:
I've decided to use the basic pattern of the kauni cardigan, but the damask fair isle patterning. I want to centre the motifs, which means counting stitches and all that, and then figuring out the sleeves, and how that's going to work, and all the rest. I looked around Ravelry, and found a variation I love - instead of the ribbed edges (ribbing on cardigans doesn't thrill me), I saw a version with picot hems - bottom, neck edge and front edge. Love it! I may not do the picot, but I'm definitely doing the hemmed edges. I even have some nice pewter clasps that will work well for the front closures, rather than buttons.

The kauni cardigan may become my large summer project. How's that for good planning? Having a lapful of wool in August. Well, that's what socks are for - small portable, and if they reach my lap while I'm knitting, then I've made them too long!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who's going to Lettuce Knit on Saturday??

Okay, here's my dilemma. I am a suburban/rural girl. I don't do downtown or overly urban areas well. Unless it's a subway ride and/or a walk, I'm pretty much useless. I don't mind driving to Lettuce Knit, as long as I have a pretty defined place to park my car. I'm comfortable on the subway, but streetcars are kind of alien to me.

So my questions are...

Can I drive to the area, and somewhat easily find a parking lot?


Can I walk to Nassau Street from the subway, and if so, which station to get off at?


Is anyone coming from northish of Toronto that wants to meet up and travel together?

For someone who has been described at various times as a tough chick, I really am somewhat of a wimp when it comes to this...

and I may have bought a loom... okay, I did buy a loom. I'm such a sheep...

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm back

Sorry about that, kids. I went away and didn't tell anyone.

Actually I was here all the time, reading blogs when I could, but I got super busy at work, and kind of fell of the face of the earth it seemed.

It's all good, though. I had my 3-month review at the new job, and to be honest, blushed during it. It seems like my boss really likes me and likes the job I'm doing. So I'm staying. And for more money, and I've been asked to sit on some senior steering committees, because they like what I have to say. So I guess being a talkative bigmouth comes in handy some times.

All this from a job where I would have taken a cut in pay (well... maybe not...) because they are so nice, the job is great, the hours are shorter, I can work at home when I need to... I could go on and on, but suffice it to say - I'm happy. Very happy.

And yes, we are hiring in a number of departments! If you live in the Markham area, drop me a comment!

But to the knitting and other things I do...

The Noro socks are done. The other three pairs of socks are also moving along. The copper lace shawl restart is going swimmingly. The beads are as sparkly and addictive as ever. And the weaving? Well, I think I'm going to buy me the loom. So, Dierdre? Better get your credit card ready! If I do it, you said you would too! I was looking at my stash and realized I could make a huge dent by weaving some of it.

All the worsted weight cotton I have hanging around? (I have no idea why I have so much...) Teatowels! (I've seen them made up and they are beautiful!)

My warehouse sized stash of Briggs and Little? (I wholesale bought from them at one time) - scarves or something!

My multitudes of other fibres and stuff? Stuff that I will NEVER have time to knit? Maybe if I weave it, I will be able to navigate through the room the stash lives in...

Who am I kidding? I just want it because it looks like a cool thing to do...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Alison, I'm sorry...

The pattern? Wonderful.

The yarn? perfect for the job.

The knitter? A complete idiot.

One day, I will learn that knitting lace, and drinking wine with friends is not a good combination. I made several fatal errors on this shawl, and when I tried to fix them, well, let's just say that it would have been like me performing brain surgery with a handbook leading the way. In other words, not good.
So I bit the bullet, and ripped. All the way back. Then I started again. Beacause I want a circular shawl, and I want it in this yarn (line, cotton, viscose blend). I will do this...

And yes, I will stick to stockinette socks for those wine drinking, friend talking times...

Monday, June 02, 2008

must... stop... reading... blogs...

because I see things like this, and I WANT TO MAKE ONE! (edited to add - seems to be down... You should be seeing a wondeful woven scarf...)

I don't have a loom, (but I can get one...).

I don't have time to take on a new craft, (but I can always find time, right?)

It's not cheap, (but seriously, I've spent more than this on other whims...)

Geez, you know I'm going to fall down and hurt my credit card, don't you...